Jeff Bezos, the richest man on earth, is about to take off on his space travel company’s first flight with people on board. On Tuesday, Bezos will become the second billionaire to ride his own rocket. The Amazon founder will be joined by his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas.
The Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is set to blast off on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Bezos is aiming for an altitude of roughly 66 miles (106 kilometers). There is no need for trained staff on the quick up-and-down flight, as the capsule is fully automated.
A total of 15 successful test flights have been sent to space by New Shepard rockets since 2015, all of them unoccupied. Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights by the year-end.
The company still has to open ticket sales to the public. The fourth capsule seat is being filled by those who took part in last month’s US$28 million charity auction. The winner was not able to attend Tuesday’s launch because of a scheduling conflict, which opened up the slot for Oliver Daemen, a college-bound student from the Netherlands.
Along with Oliver, he will be joined by his younger brother Mark, and Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same testing back in the early 1960s but failed to make the cut because they were women.